Since this interview will only be published in German. You'll find here the English version.
1. Ave! How is it going? You have just returned from the - partially ill-fated - tour of Arghoslent and Gravewürm throughout Europe. Can you share some experiences with us?
Hello, Everything is going fine here. A bit exhausted from the stress of the Arghoslent + Gravewurm tour but we must continue our duty. The tour went fine except two unexpected cancellation
and I'm not convinced that antifas were the only cause of these cancellations. Where money is involved you'll find no support and in the case of the French date, I am more and more convinced that Drakkar represents more of a threat because of it's expansion. What do people hate/fear more?: Arghoslent's/ Drakkar's ideas or the fact that people might favor Arghoslent's music/ ideas and abandon insipid bands produced by insipid labels. Where money is involved, for most people there are no convictions.
The scene is sadly made up of mostly people who want to form a band or who want to start a label. Myspace is full of these show-offs and not everyone has the ability to form a good label/band. What we really need is people who truely have the balls to organize shows and stand up for these shows. We need people who own concert halls, we need people who have convictions and will put their knowledge/ know-how for these convictions. What is Black Metal that conveys such violence and hate and yet shy's away at the slightest reprimand?
2. You have started your label in order to release an album by Mütiilation. That was in 1995, when the "Black Legions" were still active - but their releases were, aside from a circle of "insiders", not really well-known or even "popular". Today, the situation has completely changed. "Black Legions"-bands are hailed as "trve kvlt" by many fans, especially young ones; the releases of the "B.L." are bootlegged and/or sold at insanely high prices via Ebay. What is your point of view regarding this development, and how do you consider this new situation?
Yes, Black Legions were very not popular at that time, we even had a lot of problems to sell our cds. People were saying these bands were nazis and I remember that many distributors boycotted this album because of these rumors. Today BlackLegions, are considered as a cult by many young guys who buy fake demos on ebay. I think this situation is really pathetic, people seems to pay more attention to material than spirit. This is a bit weird, because the trendiest kid will be the first to put higher bid on a fake Mamagovoutre cassette.
It should be know though, that most of the material found on ebay, especially for tapes, is previously downloaded material and put on tape/ CD. None of it is original, and it can't be, cause at the time a handful of copies were made regarding tape versions. Ebay/ Contemporary times logic: the copy has more value than the original...!
3. In 2009, new labels appear out of the blue on a monthly basis. Apparently, it is not really a problem anymore to raise the funds for first releases, to build up a distribution of sorts, and to promote the releases accordingly... or how do you judge this situation? When you started Drakkar in 1994, how did that happen? What were the problems, and how did you manage to overcome them?
I think the scene is over saturated, too many bands, too many labels. And too much of everything in fact. Too much of stupidity too. Black Metal nowadays is well accepted by everybody. It became a regular kind of music. But people have forgotten what Black Metal was in the past. Black Metal is not just music, it's a strong ideology. A weapon to fight against the modern world and all form of religion. Black Metal is a way of life and a way of thinking, Black Metal could be also a way of dying. Black Metal is a cult.
Regarding New labels, the drop of prices in CD duplication does explain of lot these developments combined with the development of Internet. However, I honestly don't see a futur for more than half of these new labels as most of them will find out soon enough how hard it is to "sell" as we are already overly saturated as it is. But I have nothing against the honest guy that decides he wants to support a music/ band and does it with passion.
4. You have released bands which remained in the underground (like Grand Belials Key) as well as bands who started quite a successful career (like Watain) afterwards. How do you feel about bands who stay loyal to your label and about those who go to a bigger label for the sake of (commercial) success? Do you maintain a good relationship with all of "your" bands, regardless of their further career?
We dealt with over 100 bands since 1994. We met many people. We are really pleased to still be working with bands who share the same conception of things. I will tend to prefer the bands who remain loyal to their underground roots than rockstars wanabees like Watain who were only thinking about how to make the maximum of money with their music. We are not here to be in conflict with bands, we are just a music label after all. We produce bands and we try to do it well. Of course, we try to select the bands we like the most. Bands who could have the same respect we have for the Black/Old Death metal cult. We do not produce products, we release extreme metal.
5. Which criteria do you consider when signing a band to your label? Do you review promo material sent to you, or do you get in touch with any band that is of interest to yourself?
We receive between 5 to 10 promo pack every week. We do our best to listen to what we can but due to the number of bands we have already, we have to be very selective.
6. CD sales are declining due to illegal downloads etc., but more fans prefer to purchase limited vinyl editions of their favorite releases anyway. How important is the compact disc for you nowadays? Could you imagine to don't release compact discs anymore, in favor of mp3-downloads and limited collectors (vinyl) editions?
During the first 3 months of 2009, we noticed a decline of sales of about 40%. This means that we'll certainly produce less bands and we'll put more attention to each release.
The music market is changing and many labels and distributors will collapse during 2009. To make easy cash with a music label and mail order is over now. We'll continue our label but we'll mainly work with the few bands we still have under contract here. It'll be more and more difficult to get signed on one of our labels. I don't foresee the end of compact discs as of yet though, everything will be at a lesser scale which in a sense is good. If people want to download that's fine, but they should do it legally cause nothing can ever be for free, it's a myth. Good sound requires a good sound engineer so somekind of studio budget etc. Hard and honest work should always be valued.
7. Many Black Metal-labels and mailorders, especially in Europe, use sort of a disclaimer on their websites that says: "No politics - just music!". What's the point in doing such a statement? You don't do anything like that yourself, why?
We are just a label, we are not a political movement. But we are a Black Metal label. The term Black Metal should speak for it self but like I said, not enough today.
We are a Black/Death Metal label, we are opposed to all form of religions or social politics. We care more about the identity, traditions./history of Europe than this actual corrupted society.
Anyway, you'll notice that Drakkar isn't at all into blah-blah. But the point in such a statement as you have mentioned is really just to reassure big distributors and not lose "selling potential". To make sure that distributors will not choose to boycot their releases. We're not concerned by this because we feel that traditional distributors are no longer the only means by which you can distribute releases and internet has been a big help. You don't want to distribute Arghoslent, fine, people can find it elswhere. Plus it has never been Drakkar's policy to format our releases/ bands. Money is insipid, it is tasteless and if it overwhelmes you, than it sterilizes everything: music, ideas... Anyways bands who have been boycotted by the fascists of Twilight have sell 5/6 times more than others. So, it seems that these freedom of speech lovers who do not tolerate ideas of others fail in their attempt of formatting the scene like they want. We believe in the freedom of speech and differences. What is forbidden or not tolerated by segregasionists of ideas could be supported by us. We do not need to justify our label activities by words neither, we do not try to put a definition on it. May it displease to those who are doing marketing and money with that.
8. Looking back at all the releases you have produced, can you name your most favorite ones as well as the ones you are not entirely satisfied with?
I have many favorites Drakkar releases, Arghoslent, Grand Belial's Key must be the one I have listened the most, they are classics.
I just regret to have produced the debut MCD of Alcest. This was a mistake and I am really sorry for this.
9. Can you briefly explain how a standard working day for you looks like? Quite many B.M.-fans would believe that working with a label and a mailorder in this scene is something really worthwhile, because they could make a living with their "hobby". Do you share that notion?
We work 6 sometimes 7 days a week, we don't count our hours. We often don't get payed, all is invested in productions and fucking taxes. It can happen that you can hate being in front of a computer screen reading stupid emails like “DO YOU TRADE BRO ?”
Work is more often than not redundant, repetitive: taking in orders, packing etc. but what really makes it worthwhile is working with a band we believe in. Our most recent pride is Sacrificia Mortuorum which seems to be sadly under rated, but we hope through our work to change that.
All my life is dedicated to my label and my musical project, I am not specially proud of this but well, this is how I am.
10. Being into Black Metal for such a long time now, has your relation to this music and scene changed in any way? Would you still consider starting a label for Black Metal now as before?
Yes, I think my relation with music has changed and this relation still changes and I am happy with it. I listen and produce what I like. I was lucky enough to start at the right moment and Drakkar became big enough to let us continue this activity for a long time. I think that my passion for music hasn't changed, I still listen to these old albums and I still enjoy discovering new bands. I collect records, I try to discover new bands and I like to correspond with some people who share the same passion.
I haven't changed but the scene has changed. Sometimes, I feel like a stranger when I go to one concert. People are all dressed the same, they are all listening the same music. They all wear the same ugly patches because it's cool. It can be disgusting. I went to Germany to this damn festival in Speyer and it was more like a metal supermarket than a concert.
To answer your question, I will consider starting a new label anytime, because, there is still good bands who could need my support because they deserve it.
11. What are your plans for 2009 and beyond? From where can Germans order your releases over here?
We are planning to reprint the first LOITS album under a special edition. A new CELESTIA album has to be expected as well, a split ARGHOSLENT/MARTIAL BARRAGE. Well for more infos, it's better to check our webpage cause there is so much going on...
In Germany, all our releases are available via MERCHANT OF DEATH DISTRIBUTION
12. Any last comments...
Thanks for the interview.